Windows 7 Upgrade or not upgrade

My home PC has been running Windows XP and an old Ubuntu Linux for a few years now. It was time to upgrade that thing with a new install of the most recent versions of everything.

Upgrading from XP to 7 is not possible. Only Vista users can get upgraded. But the Microsoft Store clearly indicates that XP users can buy the Upgrade version even though they’ll have to reinstall all their apps. That’s fine with me.

So, the next logical step was to clean my biggest hard disk, partition it fifty-fifty between Linux and NTFS and run the Windows 7 setup… It took 2h30m. Then, it asked a few usual questions including the product key…

Invalid product key. WHAT ?

In fact, the setup of Windows 7 looks for an existing Windows XP copy to accept the upgrade product key. So the “solution” from Microsoft is to reinstall XP on the new disk, perform an upgrade and select some option to reformat the disk in the process. Thanks Microsoft, you just wasted the very first few hours of my time with your OS. I just bought your software and I already regret it. Would it have been so hard to put a warning in the store or when I started the bloody setup ?

Update 2012-01-05:

My solution:

  • Plug the old disk
  • Boot Linux
  • Create a dummy partition on the new disk of the same size as the old one (200Gb)
  • dd if=/dev/sdb1 of=/dev/sda2 bs=(size of the hard disk blocks)
  • Restart Windows 7 setup on the clean partition, it found the old install and accepted my product key. Activated Windows.
  • Delete the temporary partition and setup Linux.


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Rubber stamp effect in Apple Keynote

This post will show you how to add in Apple iWork’s Keynote this kind of tag:

This is rather easy although not so obvious at first.

1. Add some text and make it red:

2. Add a chalky border. Select the Graphic tab, a Line stroke, a chalky line style, red and to make it even nicer, add a shadow. There are several chalky borders, I use the first one of them:

3. Rotate the stamp to your taste

And voilà:

The more I use Apple products, the more I like them.

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Bad MacOS ergonomy

Macs look great and are generally very easy to use. But there is one huge usability issue though. Let’s consider this message when you empty the trash:

MacOS button focus

Do you have any idea what is going to happen if you hit enter or space ?

The Cancel button is circled in blue, meaning that it is the currently focused button. It can changed with tab and activate with space.

The Empty Tash button is completely blue, meaning that it is the default button. It will be activated if you hit enter, wherever your active button is.

I know it. But every time I see such a message, I need to pause and think. Then we wonder why people always use their mouse rather than the keyboard shortcuts…

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Grails MySQL mediumtext blob etc

I am trying to build Grails interface around an existing database in MySQL. It is more designed to take its own classes and map them automatically to the database. I’m trying to do the opposite and it requires some tricks. The one that really annoyed me was:
Caused by: org.hibernate.HibernateException: Wrong column type in <sometable> for column <columnname>. Found: mediumtext, expected: longtext

I do have a column of type mediumtext and I am trying to access it from a “text” type in Grails. While it makes sense for the generated database schema to use longtext for the java text type, it should accept any variant of text when using an existing database.

There is a solution though: sqlType.

static mapping {
columnname sqlType:’mediumtext’

This however reduces the portability of your mapping to different databases.

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Eclipse Mac OS X Toggle comment keyboard shortcut

With Eclipse on Windows, you can comment a code section by typing CTRL-/ . On a Mac, this is not possible because CMD-/ is mapped system-wide to the Help feature. So, the shortcut becomes CMD-7 . That’s mentioned in the menu item and it’s fine on qwerty keyboards and all layouts that have the numbers on by deault. On azerty keyboards (Belgian or French), the number keys by default produce &锑(§è!çà) and you need to use the shift key to get the numbers. The toggle command tool however does not work with CMD-SHIFT-7 nor CMD-è. I looked for the actual shortcut for months and at last David Nguyen found it:


I’m happy.

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Blog manifesto

So far, my blog was a mix of personal stuff, random thoughts and geeky stuff. I have decided to separate the geeky stuff from the rest. These refer to different audiences.

I have also decided to write this technical blog in English for obvious reasons.


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